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Depression psychology mental illness in which a person experiences deep unshakable sadness and diminished interest in nearly all activities People also use the term depression to describe the temporary sadness loneliness or blues that everyone feels from time to time In contrast to normal sadness severe depression also called major depression can dramatically impair a persons ability to function in social situations and at work People with major depression often have feelings of despair hopelessness and worthlessness as well as thoughts of committing suicide Depression can take several other forms In bipolar disorder sometimes called manic-depressive illness a persons mood swings back and forth between depression and mania People with seasonal affective disorder typically suffer from depression only during autumn and winter when there are fewer hours of daylight In dysthymia pronounced dis-THI-mee-uh people feel depressed have low self-esteem and concentrate poorly most of the timeoften for a period of yearsbut their symptoms are milder than in major depression Some people with dysthymia experience occasional episodes of major depression Mental health professionals use the term clinical depression to refer to any of the above forms of depression Surveys indicate that people commonly view depression as a sign of personal weakness but psychiatrists and psychologists view it as a real illness In the United States the National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that depression costs society many billions of dollars each year mostly in lost work time IIPREVALENCE Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses At least 8 percent of adults in the United States experience serious depression at some point during their lives and estimates range as high as 17 percent The illness affects all people regardless of sex race ethnicity or socioeconomic standing However women are two to three times more likely than men to suffer from depression Experts disagree on the reason for this difference Some cite differences in hormones and others point to the stress caused by
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